Stories tagged Egypt

Just in case the carnival freak show hasn't made it around to your town yet this summer, here's a little bit of a sideshow for you, the two-headed Egyptian calf.

It's no secret that King Tut, even being just a boy pharaoh, had a thing for the bling. But now researchers have discovered that his footwear was not just stylish, but sensible. Research this year discovered that among Tut's many medical problems was a club foot. And now, new discoveries show that he had special orthopedic sandals that looked good, too. Click here to learn more and see a Tut sandal style show.

They just keep digging up cool things in Egypt these days. After last week's reports on the findings of medical scans of King Tut's mummy, yesterday archaeologists in Egypt announced that they've uncovered an eight-foot statue head of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, grandfather of Tut. Here's a link to the full details, plus photos of this amazing find. While most pharaoh statues found these days are missing noses, this huge work has it intact.

Feb
16
2010

What's wrong with Tut?: CT scans and DNA tests conducted over the past two years have uncovered several major problems that contributed to King Tut's death: malaria, broken leg, a club foot and restricted blood flow to Tut's left foot.
What's wrong with Tut?: CT scans and DNA tests conducted over the past two years have uncovered several major problems that contributed to King Tut's death: malaria, broken leg, a club foot and restricted blood flow to Tut's left foot.Courtesy Sanandreas
Being a boy king of Egypt had it’s share of downs along with all the gold and glitter.

CT scans and DNA testing conducted on the mummy to King Tutankhamun (King Tut for short) show that the boy pharaoh was suffering from several medical problems at the time of his death at age 19.

The contemporary medical testing shows that Tut had a cleft palate and a club foot and was suffering from malaria and a broken leg at the time that he died some 3,300 years ago. The results were announced today and will be published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Medical experts have also been able to untangle the web of intrigue as to who Tut’s parents were, sort of. DNA shows that Tut is the son of the previous pharaoh, Akhenaten, and his likely mother is an unidentified sister of Akhenaten. In total, 16 mummies underwent CT scanning to get a better picture of who Tut was and what the times were like when he was alive.

The 21st Century testing was able to answer more than half of Tut’s paternity questions by identifying his father. And while we know that Akhenaten’s sister was Tut’s mother, her mummified remains confirm Tut’s DNA, her identity is still unknown. It was not uncommon in New Kingdom Egypt for pharaohs to marry to their sisters.

The findings put to bed once and for all long-held speculation that Tut was murdered. That idea was fueled by a hole in his skull, but a 2005 scan of Tut’s mummy showed that hole was made as part of the mummification process.

The majesty that we associated with Tut based on the ornate furnishings found in his burial chamber may be a far cry from what life was like for the finals days of the boy king. The medical testing shows that Tut was a sickly teen who was done in by complications from the broken leg and malaria in his brain.

On top of that, Tut had a club foot that likely required him to use a cane. In fact, 130 canes or walking sticks have been found among his burial goods, with some of the canes showing wear and tear. Tut also suffered from Kohler's disease in which lack of blood flow was slowly destroying the bones of his left foot.

Another theory cleared up through the medical tests: Tut did not suffer from any medical conditions that would have given him female body characteristics or misshapen bones.

Want to learn more? Here’s a Q&A with Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, about the new Tut findings.

And here is even more in-depth coverage from National Geographic.

Bummed out that Tut was so sickly and need a pick-me-up? Do you really need a shot of Steve Martin's "King Tut" song right now? Enjoy (with a special guest appearance by Fonzie [aka Henry Winkler]). Maybe Steve needs to add a new verse to include all this new medical information.

Feb
08
2010

The Discovery of King Tut: Howard Carter, staging the discovery of King Tut, in 1922.
The Discovery of King Tut: Howard Carter, staging the discovery of King Tut, in 1922.Courtesy Wiki Media Commons
Science Buzz bloggers have been buzzing about this topic for some time, but as the time draws near, I thought I would jump in for those new to Science Buzz. The rapidly expanding field of DNA analysis is now being used to verify the genealogy of the great kings of Egypt. Zahi Hawass, chief of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, has announced that on February 17th, 2010 he will be revealing the results of DNA testing on the famous mummy of the boy king, Tutankhamun. DNA testing has already been done on King Amenhotep III (who reigned from approximately 1388 to 1351 BCE) for comparison as he is believed to be either Tut’s father or grandfather. The mummy of Amenhotep’s son, Akhenaten (who could be Tut’s father), has yet to be found. Researchers also plan to test the DNA of two mummified fetuses found in the tomb to determine if they are related to Tut and shed light on whether King Tut’s bride, daughter of Akhenaten, was his full sister or half sister.

Despite the popularity of King Tut and the splendid artifacts found in his tomb, he is actually only a minor figure in the history of Egyptian pharaohs, reigning for a mere 10 years in a time of great unrest. The story of Akhenaten is more interesting. Akhenaten, who ruled from 1352 to 1336 BCE, is famous for changing both religion and artistic style in Egypt, what is now known as the Amarna Period. Akhenaton introduced a new monotheistic cult of worship surrounding the sun disc Aten and excluded all other Egyptian gods from being worshipped in an effort to suppress the powerful priesthood of Amun.

Pharaoh Akhenaten: Classic Amarna Period sculpture of the Pharaoh Akhenaten.
Pharaoh Akhenaten: Classic Amarna Period sculpture of the Pharaoh Akhenaten.Courtesy Hajor and Wiki Media Commons
Artwork during the Amarna Period took on a more naturalistic style and often emphasized affectionate family scenes of the Pharaoh with his wife Nefertiti and their children. Of interest to many art historians is the depiction of Akhenaten himself. He is represented with an accentuated feminine appearance, rounded protruding belly, wide hips, long slender limbs, and a long thin face. Some believe it is a purposeful political depiction stressing his belief in equality of the sexes, some suggest he was a hermaphrodite, and others suggest he had Marfan’s syndrome. People with Marfan’s syndrome are usually very tall with long thin arms and legs, have thin faces, and funnel shaped chests. Unfortunately, until his mummy is located this will remain a mystery.

When Akhenaten died, the priests of Amun regained power, striking Akhenaten’s name from Egyptian records, reversed all of his religious and governmental changes, and returned the capitol to Thebes. His son, Tutankhaten changed his name to Tutankhamun to honor Amun and became the now famous boy king ruling from 1336 to 1327 BCE.

Mr. Hawass has announced plans to test all the royal mummies using their new $5 million DNA lab in the Egyptian museum. However, there is some concern in the scientific field that he will not submit results to labs outside Egypt for independent verification as is common practice in DNA testing. For example, DNA results of Hatshepsut, Egypt’s famous, powerful and only female pharaoh have never been released. Our fascination with the pharaohs is sure to continue for many more centuries.

Tut's ancestory to be revealed: Later this month, authorities will be releasing the DNA test findings conducted on the mummy of King Tut. The research could determine who his ancestors were.
Tut's ancestory to be revealed: Later this month, authorities will be releasing the DNA test findings conducted on the mummy of King Tut. The research could determine who his ancestors were.Courtesy Bjørn Christian Tørrissen
In what sounds more like a script from a Maury Povich show, archaeology authorities in Egypt have announced they will be sharing the findings of DNA testing done on the mummy of King Tut later this month.
Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, has announced that a news conference Feb. 17 at the Cairo Museum will share the results of the testing, which could include determining the ancestory of the boy pharaoh.

A Dominican Republic archaeologist believes that she's getting closer to finding the site of Cleopatra's tomb in Egypt. Two expeditions have uncovered a royal cemetery and Greco-Roman artifacts that bump up the odds that it could be the site of Cleopatra's burial. Here's more video on the recent findings:

And here is a link to a previous Buzz post about the search for Cleopatra's tomb.

Apr
24
2009

Theda Bara as Cleopatra: The silent film star portrayed the Queen of Egypt as a vamp in the 1917 production.
Theda Bara as Cleopatra: The silent film star portrayed the Queen of Egypt as a vamp in the 1917 production.Courtesy Mark Ryan
Archaeologists in Egypt believe they may be on the verge of uncovering the long-sought final resting place of Cleopatra and Marc Antony. The two ill-fated lovers committed suicide together in 30 BC after being defeated in a power struggle over control of the Roman Empire.

Zahi Hawass, the Indiana Jones of Egyptian antiquities says crews are ready to dig up three chambers located 65 feet below the surface, where they hope the remains of Antony and Cleopatra will be found. The chambers were discovered using ground-penetrating radar in the vicinity of the Taposiris Magna, a temple erected in 300 BC in honor of the Egyptian god Isis.

"In my opinion," Hawass said, "if this tomb is found it will be one of the most important discoveries of the 21st century because of the love between Cleopatra and Mark Antony, and because of the sad story of their death."

The two lovers have appeared in stories throughout the ages including a play by William Shakespeare, another by George Bernard Shaw, and a number of major motion pictures (1912, 1917, 1934, 1945, 1963). According to legend, Antony died by his own sword while Cleopatra took her life by holding poisonous asps to her bosom

Discovery of their graves would indeed be a coup, especially for lawyer-turned-archaeologist Kathleen Martinez who seems to have made it her life’s work to restore the Queen of the Nile’s tainted image.

As a young girl in the Dominican Republic, Martinez remembers listening to her father and his colleagues bad-mouthing Cleopatra’s reputation during scholarly discussions in their library.

"They were speaking very badly about her and about her image," Martinez recalled. "I got very upset. I said I didn't believe what they are saying, that I needed to study more about her."

Martinez spent the next 14 years uncovering as much as she could find about Cleopatra’s life. In the end, her studies led her to a portrait of an intelligent leader who ruled as Egypt’s last pharaoh.

"[Cleopatra] spoke nine languages, she was a philosopher, she was a poet, she was a politician, she was a goddess, and she was a warrior."

Four years ago, Martinez convinced Hawass to allow her to join his archaeological team, and for the last three years has been excavating the hillside site near Abusir about 30 miles east of Alexandria, where the tombs are thought to be located.

According to writings by Greek historian Plutarch, Antony’s political rival Octavian (Caesar Augustus) allowed for Antony and Cleopatra to be buried together although it’s not mentioned where.

But artifacts from the Abusir site – including a piece of male statuary, coins with Cleopatra’s image, and a mask fragment with a cleft-chin - seem to point to this being Marc Antony’s burial site. And if his remains are buried here, then so are Cleopatra’s.

"She couldn't be buried in a different place from Mark Anthony and be protected by Isis,” Martinez said.

The scientists hope to begin digging into the chambers as soon as next month but a modern hitch may postpone that for a few months. One of the summer homes of Egyptian president President Hosni Mubarak is located near the dig-site, and security concerns could delay digging into the chambers until autumn.

LINKS
CNN story
Telegraph story
Story on Yahoo
Egyptology News story

Egyptian archaeologists this week announced the discovery of nearly 30 mummies among 52 tombs in Lahun, a site about 75 miles south of Cairo. Click here to see samples of the new discoveries and learn why mummy coffins are decorated the ways they are.

Do you like a fine aged wine? How about this vintage found in the ancient Egyptian tomb of Scorpion I. It's a mere 5,000 years old with traces of medicinal herbs blended in. Drink it to your health!!!